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Roasting Roques

Side Dishes: Puttin' up peppers

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Last week, a few passersby noticed flames shooting out in front of Roque's. But the Mexican restaurant wasn't on fire. Owner Jim Wood was roasting a few green chiles — 1600 pounds of 'em, to be precise, over gas flames.

The hot stuff was transported from New Mexico to Vermont in 40-pound burlap sacks. Once the skins blister and char, after about six to seven minutes in the roaster, the peppers are handed off to Jim's wife and Roque's co-owner, Jeanette. She and a staffer remove the peel and seeds and prepare the chiles to be frozen. It'll be enough to make their special green chile sauce for a full year.

In New Mexico, Wood explains, you can get green chiles on almost anything, including McDonald's burgers. With a few days of roasting under his belt and a few more to go, Wood claims that he's "not sick of 'em yet."